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Graphic Novel Review: "Dick Grayson: The Lost Carnival" by Michael Moreci

Natalie is a writer who works at her local library. She enjoys writing reviews, watching anime and TV shows, and playing video games.

"Dick Grayson: The Lost Carnival" graphic novel cover.

"Dick Grayson: The Lost Carnival" graphic novel cover.

Quick Info

  • Author: Michael Moreci
  • Publisher: DC Ink, a subsidiary of DC Comics
  • Published: April 7, 2020
  • Page Count: 208 pages
  • Availability: Buy physically on Amazon, digitally on Comixology

Story Summary

Dick Grayson has grown tired of giving the same performances day in and day out at Haly’s Circus to dwindling crowds. After being scolded by Mister Haly, he sneaks off to a party in Wyoming with his friend Willow and after helping out a fellow Carny, he discovers a mysterious carnival that sets up near Haly’s and threatens to siphon off the circus’ already-dwindling audience. But not everything is as it seems and Dick is walking into an unknown danger even as he develops a crush on one of the Carnival’s performers, Lucina.

The Story Doesn’t Take Place in Any Continuity With Mainstream Comics

This young adult graphic novel does not fit in any continuity when it comes to DC Comics and is set in a separate universe from the mainstream DC Comics.

The story also portrays an older Dick Grayson than in canon because he can drive and in the mainstream DC Comics Dick has always lost his parents at the age of eight. But it does give the author Michael Moreci breathing room to create a new story without being constrained by mainstream canon and created original characters for Dick to interact with that have never been seen in the mainstream DC Comics.

It’s an enjoyable read, although it's not my favorite Dick Grayson story, but one that is fun to read, but if you want a more mainstream view of the character, pick up a Nightwing comic.

Dick Grayson and Lucina at The Lost Carnival.

Dick Grayson and Lucina at The Lost Carnival.

The Art Is Unique and Stylish

Sas Milledge’s art is very nice. I like the artwork in this story. The art style is unique with the red and blue sepia tone. The art itself has a very different appearance than art I usually see in graphic novels and manga.

I like the artwork a lot and it does stand out due to the art looking different from a lot of other artwork that is used by other artists. It makes the book stand out when it comes to artwork standpoint which does help balance out that the story isn’t nearly as memorable when it comes to storytelling.

I Love the Character Interactions in the Story

I enjoy the new characters that were specifically created for this young adult graphic novel. Willow is an entertaining character and I like her personality and that she’s Dick Grayson’s best friend. She’s a well-written character and is an interesting addition to Dick Grayson’s history and lore, even if she won’t ever make an appearance in mainstream comics.

There are also good character interactions Dick has with Lucina. She’s a character that has been created just for this story and is not in the mainstream comics at all. She is an interesting love interest for Dick and her story is well done and she’s a great character.

Dick also has some entertaining and enjoyable interactions with his parents, John and Mary because they rarely interact with him in mainstream comics outside of flashbacks or their origin story where they died.

Dick’s father John is trying to help him understand why his family legacy is important and trying to understand what Dick is going through at the same time.

I enjoy Dick’s relationship with his mother Mary because it’s very rare for them to have conversations in the comics because she’s relegated to flashbacks and mainly John and Mary speaking to each other and not directly to Dick. Even though he’s going through his teenage angst faze in this story he still has a good relationship with his mother.

The Pacing Is Slow

The pacing of Dick Grayson: The Lost Carnival is slow compared to other comic books I’ve read and because it’s slow if you’re looking for a comic with action and excitement you might want to look elsewhere because this story is more of a mystery than an action-oriented superhero comic.

The slow pacing can make the story feel boring if you’re not invested in the characters, especially since most of them are canon foreigners to the mainstream DC Comics characters, with the only notable characters from the comics being Mister Haly, the Flying Ggraysons and Dick Grayson himself. If you are not invested in the character of Dick Grayson when you start reading, you won’t enjoy the graphic novel.

Reader Poll

The Mystery Is Too Easy If You’ve Read Superhero Comics

The mystery of Dick Grayson: The Lost Carnival is an interesting one and if you’ve read stories from DC Comics before you might be able to figure it out before it’s finished.

Depending on how genre-savvy you are, you might be able to figure out what’s going on, but I won’t spoil the story for you. It is still a good mystery, but it can be predictable if you read superhero comics.

Is It Worth It as a Young Adult Graphic Novel?

I don’t read the Young Adult genre when it comes to graphic novels because I usually read mainstream graphic novels from DC Comics instead. I understand what DC Comics is trying to do with DC Ink, the Young Adult line of their comic books. The yare trying to get people that wouldn’t normally read comics interested in comics so maybe they will pick up some of the DC Ink titles along with some mainstream comics.

It is nice to see Dick without all his previous history as Robin and Nightwing but if you jump from this story into a mainstream comic the difference in characterization might be jarring since they were kind of going for a teen rebel vibe and Dick isn’t a teenager in mainstream comics and he’s not a rebel either.

It is an easy comic if you’ve not read anything about the character and you want to start somewhere. Should you buy this young adult graphic novel blind? I don’t know, I enjoyed it but I’ve read a lot of Nightwing comics so while I’m not an expert on the character I do know a bit about him so I was already set to at least enjoy the comic.

I can’t quite recommend buying it if you’re fandom blind, and you might enjoy reading it if you can borrow it from your local library or from your friend that has it.

As much as DC Ink wants you to be able to go in without having to worry about character baggage, this feels like a comic that is more for longtime fans of the character than newcomers, although it is newcomer friendly and even if you know the basics of Dick Grayson’s origin story as Robin you’ll be able to enjoy the graphic novel.

It’s a great young adult graphic novel, but not quite worth the blind buy recommendation.

Quick Summary

What Works:What Doesn't Work:

A fresh, fun take on Dick Grayson's character

Slow pacing

An interesting look at Dick's life before Batman

Longtime fans might not like Dick's different characterization from mainstream comics

Great character interactions

The mystery is easy to solve if you read comics

Great artwork that i unique to the book

My Grade: A-

I recommend this comic to longtime fans of Dick Grayson, although it’s a slightly different take when it comes to Dick Grayson’s characterization, it’s still an enjoyable read that fans of the character will enjoy picking up.

As for newcomers, you can come in fandom blind, I would try to borrow it from your local library if they have it. It is an enjoyable read although it might not be exciting enough for people that want to read action-oriented comics and graphic novels.

It’s a great character study for Dick Grayson that keeps it entertaining for longtime fans of the character while making him accessible for newcomers as well. I can’t quite recommend just blind buying the young adult graphic novel if you like what you see you’ll probably enjoy reading the story.

As a longtime fan of Dick Grayson, I highly recommend buying this graphic novel. It was a fun, unique look at the character without having to be attached to Batman. It was also a different story than what’s usually shown in mainstream comics so it is something fresh and interesting to read, Dick’s circus life might not be an interesting read for everyone. If you want to see Dick in a mainstream superhero comic I’ll recommend Nightwing: Year One by Chuck Dixon, if you want to see Dick as a person without the sup heroics you should read Dick Grayson: The Lost Carnival.

It’s a great escapist young adult graphic novel that has an entertaining story with a good character to pull you into an interesting mystery that will intrigue newcomers and longtime fans alike.

My Rating

A circus artist performs at the Lost Carnival.

A circus artist performs at the Lost Carnival.

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